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Kimberlites and the start of plate tectonics

R. J. Stern, M. I. Leybourne and Tatsuki Tsujimori
Kimberlites and the start of plate tectonics
Geology (Boulder) (August 2016) 44 (10): 799-802


We want to know when plate tectonics began and will consider any important Earth feature that shows significant temporal evolution. Kimberlites, the primary source of diamonds, are rare igneous features. We analyze their distribution throughout Earth history; most are young ( approximately 95% are younger than 0.75 Ga), but rare examples are found as far back as the Archean(older than 2.5 Ga). Although there are differing explanations for this age asymmetry (lack of preservation, lack of exposure, fewer mantle plumes, or lack of old thick lithosphere in the Archean and Proterozoic), we suggest that kimberlite eruptions are a consequence of modern-style plate tectonics, in particular subduction of hydrated oceanic crust and sediments deep into the mantle. This recycling since the onset of modern-style plate tectonics ca. 1 Ga has massively increased mantle CO (sub 2) and H (sub 2) O contents, leading to the rapid and explosive ascent of diamond-bearing kimberlite magmas. The age distribution of kimberlites, combined with other large-scale tectonic indicators that are prevalent only in the past approximately 1 Ga (blueschists, glaucophane-bearing eclogites; coesite- or diamond-bearing ultrahigh-pressure metamorphic rocks; lawsonite-bearing metamorphic rocks; and jadeitites), indicates that plate tectonics,as observed today, has only operated for <25% of Earth history.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 44
Serial Issue: 10
Title: Kimberlites and the start of plate tectonics
Affiliation: University of Texas at Dallas, Department of Geoscience, Richardson, TX, United States
Pages: 799-802
Published: 20160817
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 30
Accession Number: 2016-083678
Categories: Solid-earth geophysicsIgneous and metamorphic petrology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Secondary Affiliation: Laurentian University, CAN, CanadaTohoku University, JPN, Japan
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201640
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